Although founded only in 2004, Auckland City are FIFA Club World Cup veterans, having competed at the global club showpiece on three prior occasions dating back to 2006. Most memorably, at Abu Dhabi 2009, the New Zealanders made history with a remarkable campaign in which they beat both the host representatives, and the champions of Africa. Those memorable victories over Al Ahli and TP Mazembe Englebert saw the club finish with a record fifth-place finish. The club from New Zealand’s largest metropolis also featured last year at Japan 2011, with J.League champions Kashiwa Reysol forced to work overtime before seeing off the Kiwis.
Auckland City can currently lay claim to being Oceania’s foremost club based on results over the past two seasons. The Aucklanders have secured the OFC O-League title in each of the past two seasons, most recently defeating Tahiti’s AS Tefana for the crown last May with a 3-1 aggregate victory. The domestic campaign, however, saw Auckland fall at the final hurdle despite dominating for much of the season. The side went through the regular season undefeated – the first team to do so in the eight-year history of the reincarnated New Zealand national league – only to miss the opportunity to reclaim the championship with defeat in the play-off series.
Auckland are set to field a largely unchanged squad from that which featured at Japan 2011. Vast experience remains in captain Ivan Vicelich, a key member of New Zealand’s squad at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, while coach Ramon Tribulietx has also held onto his trio of Spanish compatriots; Angel Berlanga, Manel Exposito and Albert Riera. Auckland’s burgeoning young brigade are also developing rapidly, with Alex Feneridis and Adam McGeorge both in the national team at this year’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament.
Facts and figures
Ben Sigmund, Paul Urlovic, Keryn Jordan
Ivan Vicelich (defender), Albert Riera (midfielder), Manel Exposito (forward)
Auckland began their continental campaign in style, winning their four opening group matches and racking up 20 goals in the process. Though they failed to win either of their final two group matches, the New Zealanders went on to claim a 2-1 home victory in the opening leg of the final, before a hard-working 1-0 win in Tahiti secured an aggregate victory.
The numbers game
6 - Manel Exposito’s half-dozen goals ensured the Spaniard capped an impressive campaign as the OFC O-League’s top goalscorer.